Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete World of Sports (Abridged)

From the hallowed halls of the Modlin Center for the Arts at The University of Richmond, three intrepid sports reporters, Austin Tichenor, Matt Rippy and Reed Martin dare to achieve what no fool has attempted afore in this or any other lifetime...they attempt to condense in four short quarters, two halves, nay, the play heard 'round the world, the Complete World of Sports (abridged).

This reviewer has had the privilege of being exposed to the Reduced Shakespeare Company's brilliant repartee ever since seeing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at Washington, DC's The Kennedy Center and has traveled through The Complete History of America (Abridged), The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), All the Great Books (Abridged) and Completely Hollywood (Abridged).   I've never seen Western Civilization: The Complete Musical (Abridged), but I have the CD, and I subscribe to their wonderful weekly podcast.      So, when my husband's car's gps sent us through many Richmond neighborhoods and the wrong way through the University of Richmond campus, meaning that we arrived five minutes late and the usher led me to my seat in the second row...I knew I was doomed. I have attended enough RSC productions to know what they do to latecomers.    So, I was prepared.   Apparently my willingness to take the ribbing from Matt, Austin and Reed led the woman sitting next to me to think I was a plant in the audience.  No, I am not a plant, I am very proudly still a member of the animal kingdom.

But, enough about me.   What about the newest offering from the RSC?    Is it a home run, gooooal, touchdown, unhorsing (that's joust talk), perfect 10, or any of a number of sports cliches?   The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) is a fun, high-energy marathon through the ages.   While not a linear journey through the history of sports the show is broken down into categories and continents and divided amongst the four quarters of the evening.   Our intrepid RSCPN reporters  bring laughter, groans, cheers, winces and smiles as they charge through an incredible array of sporting events. If you think of an obscure sport they probably cover it in the show, or a close cousin of the sport.   They even cover cheese wheel rolling, a proud English sport with a very violent history.

Without giving too much of the evening's entertainment away, highlights include the invention of sports from the dawn of mankind, golf, insane sports mostly invented in the British Isles, women's sports history, the olympics and a marvelous mad dash finale that will leave the audience breathless and in need of a hit from Reed Martin's ever present inhaler.

Our persevering performers sweat, strain and literally risk life and limbs to entertain their audience.   Austin Tichenor brings his razor sharp wit and charm as he fences his way to victory. Reed Martin uses all of the skills he learned as a graduate of The Bill Kinnamon School of Professional Umpire Training and Clown College as he plows through a defense that crumbles in front of his Heisman worthy offense.   And Matt Rippy, not only is he simply gorgeous, he has no right to be that graceful in rhythmic gymnastics.    All three easily deliver gold medal performances.

Being that The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) is quite literally a brand-new show, there are some growing pains to get through as the "Bad Boys of Abridgment" (quoted from the program) polish and perfect this athletic gem.    A few of the transitions, mostly in the first half of the show seem a bit abrupt. There are a few too many blackouts ending some of the skits for this reviewer's taste, however necessary they may be for the clearing and setting of the scenes.      Despite this minor quibble, The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) is clearly on par with the many quality shows this company has reduced since 1981.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company performs across the country.   Please visit their website for performance dates and locations.    

1 comment:

  1. I love me some Reduced Shakespeare! The highlight of the Complete World of Sports for me was the battle of the college fight songs and the subsequent harmonious convergence.